New Delhi: Just months to go for the General elections the Government today announced the One Rank, One Pension (OROP) scheme that will benefit some 20 lakh retired soldiers from the India Army, the Navy and the Indian Air Force.
Presenting the interim Budget in Lok Sabha on February 17, Finance Minister P Chidambaram said: “I am happy to announce that the government has accepted the principle of one rank, one pension scheme for the defence forces. Rs 500 crore will be transferred in 2014-15”. Increased pensions will be paid from April 1.
OROP implies payment of uniform pension to soldiers who retired in the same rank with the same length of service irrespective of their date of retirement. This mean further enhancement in pension rates in the forthcoming 7th pay commission will automatically be passed on to past pensioners.
In 2012, the Union Cabinet approved a Rs 2,300-crore package that took retired armed forces personnel closer to their long-pending demand of (OROP). Servicemen, who unlike their civilian counterparts, retire early -- sometimes even in the forties – find it very hard to make both ends meet in the twilight years.
The 2012 announcement was not OROP in the classic sense, but it bridged the gap between existing pensions. Till now OROP was feared as it would lead to similar demands from civilian employees.
The Defence Ministry in the past has contended that full OROP is neither financially nor administratively possible.
BJP’s Prime Ministerial Nominee Narendra Modi and Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi had backed the OROP. Rather two days ago, Gandhi had met a groups of ex-servicemen and promised that something was being done, indicating that the much-delayed annoucement would be made.
"I am on your side. I understand your concerns. You give your life for the country, I will do all that I can to see that your demands are met," said Gandhi, addressing a gathering of over 500 ex-servicemen in Delhi had said.
In Sepetmber 2013, Modi while addressing a rally of ex-servicemen at Rewari in Haryana had said the OROP needs to come in as it is needed and he also demanded a White Paper on OROP facility for the ex-servicemen.